Friday, June 30, 2017

Murphy Apartments

[Actually, the bathroom analogy does a much better job making a similar point. Damn you, Joseph!]

The following is some combination of actual ideas, satiric commentary, and just me yanking people's
I was thinking about writing a post with the title "why aren't we seeing Murphy beds?" when I actually saw a store selling upscale, urban-chic Murphy beds.Rather than let events get a jump on me again, this time I'm going to throw deep and talk about applying the Murphy bed principle on a much larger scale.

I've noticed that a lot of advocates for things like zip car and rideshare services like to point out how little time per day the average car owner actually spends behind the wheel. Putting aside concerns with the hours-per-week metric, what's strange about this argument is the implication that it particularly applies to automobiles. With a handful of exceptions, how many things do you own that are actively in use more than a few hours a week?

One obvious exception is your residence, but what if we think in terms of individual rooms? Even the non-claustrophobic need a certain amount of space. Maybe in the near future, we can get around this with virtual-reality, but, for now, I don't think it's realistic to convince people to spend time in much smaller rooms than they currently find acceptable.

We do, however, have the technology to change the dimensions of rooms while they are not being occupied. Obviously, there would be some details to work out but Broadway set designers have been doing this sort of thing for years. With a combination of moving walls and furniture that collapses or moves out of the way like a Murphy bed, you could have an apartment where the space allotted to each room changes depending on the situation. For instance you could have a bedroom that goes from spacious to cramped to wall against wall.

Of course, this would allow you to get by with roughly the same lifestyle in a much smaller place, but the more interesting application lets us bring a market-based solution into the picture. What if you could set a price on how much space was worth to you on a day by day basis? When you need more space, pay the neighbors to let you move the walls out a few feet. When money is tight, squeeze in a bit. And when you're away for the weekend, reduce your floorspace to the absolute minimum.

I can't see any way around the monopoly/monopsony problem and clearly, there would be loads of other issues to work out with this but, it can't be any less practical than some of the other solutions we've been hearing.

chains. If some of these ideas actually pan out (stranger things have happened), I plan to claim that I knew it all along.]

With all the talk of insanely expensive housing prices in places like San Francisco and New York, I've been wondering when we would see an upscale, urban-chic version of the Murphy bed.



  1. The Japanese have been doing this for a long time. You have room with a tatami floor. Bring out the cushions to sit on and the tray-like tables, you've got a dining room. Take that stuff away, bring out the futons, it's a bedroom. And so on.

  2. There was an episode of Ask This Old House this season that involved "robotic" walls. Basically, you can design movable walls that contain beds, dressers, storage space that move depending on the time of day and users desires. They were using it in a small apartment in Boston, I think.

    For some reason, lately, its the only show that can keep my attention....

  3. Some days you just can't get ahead of the curve.